18 men have been arrested at a hotel in northern Nigeria and charged with sodomy.

The men, who were detained by police on Sunday, come from different parts of Nigeria and were allegedly dressed in women’s clothes. They had come together to celebrate a gay ‘marriage,’ according to the NAN government news agency.

The arrests took place in Bauchi city, the capital of a Muslim state in the centre of Nigeria with a population of 316,000.

Sharia law is enforced in the state and if found guilty the men could be executed.

Bauchi state has already convicted three people to death by stoning for sexual offences and an agency who oversee the implementation of sharia law is pressing for the sentences to be carried out.

In Nigeria, the governor in a Muslim state must give his approval for some of the harsher penalties handed down by sharia courts, such as execution or amputation.

Predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria introduced sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic theory and philosophy of justice, in 2000.

In reality the re-introduction of harsh punishments has been the main feature of sharia courts.

In Bauchi state alone there are 40 people awaiting amuputation of one or both hands for theft.

The 18 men have been charged with sodomy and remanded in custody. They will return to court on August 21st.